When you’re musicians with a family name like Frisby, a sense of humour is necessary; it’s too easy for idiots to make lazy jokes about ‘throwaway music’. But twin sisters, Nic and Helen Frisby, together with Marc Robinson and Sam Keer, have proven they’re a band of substance. Their debut EP Philosolove brings together the gorgeous folksy sensitivity of Fotheringay, the quirkiness of Fiona Apple and the storytelling of the 70s singer-songwriters. Clearly, The Frisbys are nobody’s fools.
Nursing a mug of tea, Nic begins: “Me and Hel have always been writing songs together.” As teenagers they performed as a two-piece, weaving vocal harmonies with flute work, which, as their recent stripped-back appearance at Airballoon Day proves, is a style that they still use. But having become a four-piece three years ago, The Frisbys have developed a more richly detailed sound. As Helen puts it, “When we get with the boys, because they’re very good guitar players, and Sam plays bass, we could add more instruments and develop the ideas a bit more. Because they both sing as well we can take the harmonies into four parts.” There is much laughter as Marc explains, “We’re a bit of a sound engineer’s nightmare, as we’re always swapping instruments on stage and no two songs we play are the same line-up.”
Would they describe it as prog? Nic admits, “Initially we were classified as folk, but I think it’s really hard to find a label for us.” However, Marc adds, “We we’re never interested in writing three-minute pop songs, we’re more interested in the concept behind the songs.” He cites his own key influences as Dream Theater, Genesis and film soundtracks. As for their writing style, it’s quirky. “I think we like to surprise and do unusual things,” explains Helen. “Maybe we’ll only use a chorus once and avoid repeating the obvious section, because I think the surprising songs are the ones you want to go back and listen to again.”
The band is currently working on The Cause, their follow-up to Philosolove. It’s taken them longer to get out than expected because it’s turning into something of a beast. “It just keeps getting longer and longer,” says Helen. The Cause will also take the sound of The Frisbys in a more progressive direction. “On Philosolove, the sound is very ‘close,” says Marc. “We wanted it to sound like we were in the room with you. Whereas with The Cause we’re aiming for a more haunting sound and building on the ambiences… and for want of a better word, ‘epic’ sound.” Helen and Nic almost simultaneously say, “We really want to blow your socks off,” charmingly adding, that this is “a twin moment”.
With hopes of a two-week UK tour in the new year, things are looking bright for these folkers. Even the origin of the family name is ace, as Nic explains: “It comes from in a place in Leicestershire called Frisby-on-the-Wreake. If you go into a pub there and sign your name Frisby you get a free drink.” Once you’ve heard them in action, we’re sure you’ll want to get a round in and bathe in their beautiful sound.